Exchanging your wedding vows on a faraway island with family and friends gathered around you is beyond exciting. We highly recommend it. But no matter how beautiful the destination is and how much your guests love you, traveling far from home to an unfamiliar locale at great expense among unfamiliar people can actually prove pretty stressful. Having a few creative solutions up your lace sleeve can help make your destination wedding guests feel not only comfortable but loved by you, as well. Here are some suggestions:
First things first: Get the word out as early as possible
You are asking all your favorite peeps to take a trip that will likely cost them a lot of time and money. Give them as much advance notice as possible (8 months isn’t too soon!) to find the best airfares, book their rooms, get work covered, schedule nannies, etc. The sooner you get your dates on the calendar, the better the chances that all will be in attendance on your big day.
Put them in the loop — online
Create a website! Ideally when you send your “save the date” to guests you include a link to your wedding site. It doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated and you can simply update it with new info as time goes on. Having all your information in one easy portal will truly benefit your guests. It may even save you money on printing for things like maps, itineraries, etc. You could include information on:
1 Your preferred hotel (and adjacent hotels, if necessary).
2 Transportation (both from the airport and around town).
3 An itinerary of events (including attire suggestions like “beach casual” or “cocktail”).
4 The destination town (maps, weather, a little fun history).
5 The story of why you chose this particular destination.
6 Recommendations (restaurants, activities, shopping).
7 The guest list or a guest genealogy (more on that soon).
8 Emergency contact info
The welcome wagon
A great way to make your guests feel loved and thought of right off the bat is with a welcome basket or tote filled with goodies. Sneak these into your guests’ hotel rooms for discovery upon arrival — or (even better) hand-deliver them with a hug and answers to any questions (time permitting, of course!) The inside could include some helpful information (especially if you do not have a website): an updated itinerary, transportation info, the name and extension of your favorite concierge, coupons for activities, on-site babysitting service info, the menu from your favorite local restaurant. (The bonus? You might not be peppered with quite as many texts and calls throughout the stay asking for all these details.) Additionally, you could add some fun and thoughtful items like flip flops, reef-friendly sunscreen, a pashmina for chilly evenings, a personalized beach towel, a bottle of champagne or local rum, some sort of hangover remedy, and/or perhaps a meaningful item from your personal love story. (i.e. “We got engaged in Paris so wanted to share our favorite French chocolates with you!”) Elevate your event with memorable details.
Mastermind some mingling
Welcome your guests from the get-go with a happy hour reception or a festive poolside gathering — preferably open-house style so folks can drop in as they arrive or after a quick rest. Ideally, your guests feel thought of and connected. They are likely from all facets of your life and some may not know each other, so provide plenty of relaxed opportunities for mingling. If you create name tags, consider doing some match-making by putting the name of another guest on the back of each name tag so that person has someone to seek out. You could even put the reason why you want to connect them. Maybe your Aunt Joan worked in Chicago for a few years and one of your bridesmaids is from Chicago. You could write: Go find Joan Smith and discuss if Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria is as good as Giordano’s. A guest genealogy chart is another way to connect all your favorite peeps. Some charts are elaborate and expensive and some offer easy templates. Print out some simple versions to distribute during your first gathering. Add little facts about each of your guests to get them chatting! You could also organize group adventures and activities. Nothing breaks the ice faster than Uncle George in a grass skirt.
Group adventures and Activities for your Guests
Kauai is the perfect place for a destination wedding. If you’re thinking of going somewhere tropical, but are still on the fence about where to go, Kauai might be just what you need. With its diverse landscapes and activities, there will surely be something for everyone in your group of guests! Here’s a list of some great group adventures and activities for your family and friends who have come to celebrate with you:
If you’re looking for an outdoor activity while on your Kauai destination wedding guest trip, kayaking is a great option. There are plenty of places to kayak in Kauai, and the scenery is beautiful no matter where you go. You can find calm waters to paddle through or more adventurous routes with rapids and waterfalls. No matter what you choose, kayaking is a fun way to explore the island. Below are some of the best kayaking spots in Kauai:
- Wailua River Kayak and Hike to Secret Falls. The Wailua River is Hawaii’s biggest navigable river, as well as its most sacred.
- Hanalei River and Bay Kayak Tour.
- Huleia River Kayak Tour.
- Kayaking the Napali Coast.
The island of Kauai is the oldest and most remote of the Hawaiian Islands. It’s also one of the most diverse, with a wide variety of landscapes from beaches to rainforests hidden within its boundaries. And, it has more hiking trails than any other Hawaiian Island. There are over 50 hikes in all on Kauai including short walks that can be completed in an hour or two as well as longer treks that will take you all day to complete if you have time. Below are some of the best hiking spots for you and your wedding guests:
- Waimea Canyon
- Kalalau Trail
- Koke’e area trails and paths
- Polihale State Park
- Fern Grotto aka The Hidden Garden of Kauai
Swimming and Snorkeling
Kauai is a tropical island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It offers some of the best snorkeling and swimming opportunities in America, but not all beaches are created equal.
The following list will help you choose where to go for your group activities:
- Hanalei Bay has great tide pools, clear water, and lots of marine life – it’s also one of Hawaii’s most photographed beaches.
- Poipu Beach has calm waters with very few big waves which makes it perfect for children.
- Waimea Canyon State Park has high cliffs from which you can plunge into the Pacific Ocean below or view whales from above. Or just view breathtaking sunsets with your loved ones.
Make sure they get around your Wedding!
If the planning gods are smiling upon you, you will enjoy the all-mighty troika of destination wedding scheduling bliss: Your nuptials, your reception, and your guest accommodations are ALL happening at the same site. Ahhhh. But if your reception is on the beach a mile from the hotel or your guests are staying in far-flung accommodations around town, be a chum and provide transportation for them to and fro at your expense. (Budget it!) No one wants to be scrambling at the last minute to figure out how to get to that particular stretch of sand under the third palm tree on the left. This is just as much for your peace of mind as for theirs!
Of course, a destination wedding usually means an exotic locale with lots to do and see, but the bottom line is your guests want to spend time with you. You are the reason they’ve canceled other trips, left their work behind, and hopped on planes. Be sure you allocate time to connect with each of them — even if it’s brief. Nothing replaces genuine moments of bonding. Aunt Bertha may not be as much fun as your college buddies down the hall, but be sure to take the time to acknowledge in person how much it means to you that she temporarily shuttered her cupcake bakery in West Virginia just to fly out to witness you say “I do.”
Most of all, let your happiness spill over to them. After all, there is so much to celebrate!
For more tips on keeping your guests comfy at your destination wedding, check in with our Wedding Coordinator who is always happy to answer questions! For the most memorable destination wedding ever, consider Koloa Landing Resort on Kauai’s sunny south shore. Aloha!
by Erica Karlin — Koloa Landing Resort